Three earthquakes of 4.0 magnitude or higher have occurred in Reykjanes Peninsula since last night. A 4.2 magnitude earthquake occurred in Reykjanes Peninsula at 4:25 am this morning, following a 4.1 magnitude quake at 9:13. The largest one, of 4.9 magnitude, occurred at 9:23. The origins of the earthquakes were in Geldingadalir, just a few kilometres from the site of the Fagradalsfjall eruption which started in March and formally ended a few days ago. No injuries have been reported.
The quakes were preceded by a series of smaller quakes, that started in Reykjanes Peninsula yesterday afternoon. The tremors gradually became more intense late last night, RÚV reports.
According to Bryndís Ýr Gísladóttir, a natural disaster expert at the Icelandic Met Office, the number of quakes has now reached over 1.700 in the last 24 hours. At least nineteen of them were of 3.0 magnitude or higher. The largest quakes were widely felt in the southwestern region of Iceland, including Reykjavik.
No signs of volcanic unrest yet, but another eruption not ruled out
According to the Icelandic Met Office, there are currently no signs of volcanic unrest. However, it is likely that lava is currently flowing horizontally underneath the surface at the eruption site. Bryndís Ýr says that similar patterns were detected shortly before the eruption in Fagradalsfjall started this spring.
But does this mean that we can anticipate another volcanic eruption in Geldingadalir? Bryndís Ýr says it’s hard to know at this stage.
“Before the eruption in Fagradalsfjall last spring, there was a month-long period of seismic activity. We have to wait and see, currently we are witnessing a few tremors per minute which means that the activity is not slowing down,” says Bryndís.
She adds that movements of magma have been detected in the area, but it is still hard to say whether it is an aftereffect from the Fagradalsfjall eruption, or whether a new one is brewing.
Aviation code changed to orange
Due to the increased seismic activity in the area, the Met Office has changed the Aviation Color Code to Orange. An orange Aviation Color Code signifies increasing chances of a volcanic eruption, or an ongoing eruption with little production of volcanic ash.
The uncertainty phase due to the Fagradalsfjall eruption was lifted less than two weeks ago. It has not yet been re-enacted, but the Icelandic Met Office will meet with the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management later today to discuss the situation, Bryndís says.